August 1999

This Is Who We Are

One of the advantages we enjoy at Gun Tests is our ability to compare firearms and other shooting equipment head to head. We think the best way to purchase firearms is to shoot them side by side and learn about the warts on a particular product, and then determine whether a competing product, shot at the same time with the same ammunition, is better or worse than its stablemate. But darned few of us can afford to do this individually, mainly because of a lack of money and time.

As a consumer, I have shot many concealable pistols, hunting revolvers, competition shotguns, big-game rifles, and top-end .22s, since those are my favorite pursuits. However, I was never able to spend the time with products other than my personal guns to see if I would truly like competing items better. My experience isn’t unique. Manufacturers or retailers aren’t disposed to loan guns to customers so we can see how products compare.

In the pages of Gun Tests, things are different. We’re able to take guns and match them up apples to apples. We’re also able to break given products down to their performance base and then try to improve them, assessing what gimmicks and tricks work, and which don’t. Example: The cover article this month is a five-way comparison of polymer 9mm handguns, pitting a new Sig against other established products in the niche. Who will win? Before we begin testing, we have no idea. But after firing several hundred rounds through each gun, we’ve got a pretty good idea which gun shoots the best and handles well. This feature could only have been written with the products matched up side by side. We follow that piece up with a similar comparisons of .32 Magnum revolvers, ever-popular .30-06 rifles, sturdy 12-gauge pump shotguns, and a comprehensive “we wore them all” match-up of carry holsters. All told, we estimate there’s more than $10,000 worth of product shoehorned into these 32 pages, and we’re confident that an enthusiast like you can buy guns more confidently than if you just went to a counter and laid your money down.

Beyond our assembling groups of interesting test products, we go a step further. Hardnosed critiques are our exclusive franchise: You won’t read critical buy-this, don’t-buy-that comparisons of firearms products anywhere else. Our protocol is to evaluate the products in a class fairly and comprehensively, and tell you—no holds barred—which products we think are better than other products. You may disagree with our conclusions. In fact, I fully expect that in some cases you will take issue with what we’ve said (see the Firing Line letters on page 30). All the better. Evaluating firearms is a subjective business, and the more opinions and data we have, the better our conclusions.

Of course, comparing products isn’t all we do. There are unique or prototype items that can’t be matched up with other products for head-to-head trials. In these cases, we’ll investigate what we think will be genuine advancements in technology that may make you a better shooter. Also, we search out authorities in various shooting fields and pick their brains for tips and tricks you can use to become a better, safer shooter.

Our goals at Gun Tests are the same as yours: To buy good guns and enjoy shooting them. We think your subscription to Gun Tests will save you money, point you toward the best guns (and away from the sorry ones), and increase your shooting enjoyment.

-Todd Woodard